For every Christian, hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed to their hearts each week in worship with the church is absolutely essential. The Bible warns every believer to not neglect meeting together every week, “as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25). But “going to church” is not enough for the Christian. In order to grow and continue in the faith absolutely depends on regular face-to-face meeting with other Christians where we are personally involved in each others lives (1 Peter 4:10). There are things God will only do in a Christian’s life when they are in a small group setting, such as is happening in our Life Groups at Providence Church. The following is an excerpt from a sermon from John Piper that is helpful in explaining some reasons we need small group community in the church:
7 Reasons We Need Small Groups
God has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders.
- The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
- The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
- Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
- Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
- Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
- Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
- Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.
So please know that when this small-group ministry of our church is lifted up, I don’t think it’s an optional add-on to basic Christian living. I think it is normal, healthy, needed, New Testament Christianity. I pray that you will be part of one of these small groups or that you will get the training and start one. This is the main strategy through which our pastors and elders shepherd the flock at Bethlehem: Elders > small group leaders > members to one another.